The Smithsonian Institution and the American Philosophical Society

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This address given to the American Philosophical Society (APS) by Smithsonian Secretary Leonard Carmichael emphasizes the the long standing historical relationship between the Smithsonian and the APS. Joseph Henry, the Smithsonian's first Secretary, was an APS member. Coast Survey Superintendent and Henry's friend A.D. Bache was a president of the APS and strongly urged the selection of Henry as Secretary. Carmichael discusses the APS's role in publishing Henry's seminal scientific work before he came to the Smithsonian, and Henry's role in shaping the Smithsonian in his 30 years at its helm. He goes on to briefly discuss the work of the Smithsonian's succeeding Secretaries, also members of the APS, and points out the number of Smithsonian Regents who have also been members of the APS. There is a brief discussion of John Wesley Powell and his role in the establishment of the Smithsonian's Bureau of Ethnology, and of the Smithsonian's art museums. The address also includes an extensive discussion of James Smithson, a member of the Royal Society of London, and his bequest for the establishment of the Smithsonian.


  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Baird, Spencer Fullerton 1823-1887
  • Powell, John Wesley 1834-1902
  • American Philosophical Society


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


The author was Secretary of the Smithsonian from 1953 to 1964. This is a dinner address given to the American Philosophical Society on April 26, 1957.

Contained within

Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society Vol. 101, no. 5 (Journal)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


October 1957


  • Secretaries
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Research

Physical description

pp. 401-408

Full Record

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